Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Live Jazz, November 27-December 3

Steve Kenny's Group 47 (at the Black Dog on November 28)
© Andrea Canter

We may be facing the darkest days of the year, but we are also facing one of the most jazz-packed weeks of the year. There's no intentional festival or organized music conspiracy, yet making choices, especially Saturday, will make your ears spin. But it's all good. Without the travel or expense, we can experience what might be normal for jazz fans in the Big Apple. So rest up on Thanksgiving and have an extra slice of pie--and let the jazz-a-thon begin!

Debbie Duncan
Friday, November 27. Kick-start your Black Friday shopping with brunch at Hell's Kitchen, music courtesy of smart and sassy vocalist Debbie Duncan. Come back early this evening (5-8 pm) after your shopping spree to hear East Side, with Reynold Philipsek, Matt Senjem and Jay Epstein, as they take you on a journey of 21st century swing.

Sorry if I confused anyone (other than myself) last week regarding Patty Peterson's gig at Parma 8200. In truth, it is tonight! Sit back and enjoy one of the area's most popular singers in the pared-down company of brother Paul (bass) and nephew Jason DeLaire (keys and perhaps sax?).

Paul Harper's new "Chordless Quartet" launches at The Nicollet, with Paul on saxes, Steve Kenny on FLUMPET™, Tom Lewis on bass and young Matthew Buckner on drums. They'll be reinterpreting works by Henderson and Monk, and playing new works from Paul and Steve.

Charmin & Shapira
Vieux Carré 's double header features pianist Jeremy Walker for the early show, then the classy pizazz of Charmin and Shapira and Friends. Both vocalist Charmin and guitarist Joel have recently returned from global adventures, and due to Paul Harper's new band at The Nicollet, there will be a couple guests among the "Friends"-- saxophonist Pete Whitman and bassist Pooch Heine.

Levi Schwartzberg
There's trouble at Jazz Central but it's "Good Trouble," a band of Appleton, WI musicians currently or formerly enrolled at the Lawrence Conservatory--Ben Phillips on trumpet, Will Fraser on alto sax, Carson Caldart on tenor sax, Sam Genualdi on guitar, Jonathan Fagan on piano, Jakob Heinemann on bass, and Jack Lussenden  on drums.  Plan to make it a late night as the student jam (10 pm) kicks off with the new Levi Schwartzberg Project. Led by U of M student vibes master Levi, the band includes similarly prodigious young lions--Thomas Strommen on tenor sax, Jackson Mullett on trumpet, Drew Stinson on bass, Ben Beyene on drums.

Dave King (Gang Font)
The Icehouse hosts a rare local appearance by The Gang Font, described as "math punk indie jazz noise prog post post modern contemporary instrumental pop rock," and featuring Dave King (drums), Erik Fratzke (guitar), Bryan Nichols (piano) and Greg Norton (bass).

Meanwhile, the usual suspects: Irv Williams continues to give old age the cold shoulder at happy hour at the Dakota; bassist James Buckley, this time with guitar wizard Tim Sparks, keeps dinner hour on edge at The Icehouse; JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske cover it all from Peggy Lee to Blossom Dearie in the Lobby Bar of the Saint Paul Hotel (now both Friday and Saturday through the holidays).

Saturday, November 28. The gigs tonight could be blocks apart in New York. As is, there's a lot just blocks apart in St. Paul alone

Adam Linz
You don't even have to wait til evening for some hot jazz in St Paul. Bassist Adam Linz is curating an afternoon of music at his part-time job at Barley Brothers Records, noon- 5 pm. Surrounded by shelves of vinyl, four bands keep live music in the air, starting with the Dominican Crisis Quintet at noon, followed by Ted King, the "Pony Show Edition" of Le Percheron (Adam, Noah Ophoven-Baldwin and Levi Schwartzberg), and winding up with the first public performance of the new edition of the Dakota Combo. No cover and lots of temptations among the record sales.

Steve Kenny
Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog bills the two gigs as "opening" and "headliner" but that's not an accurate distinction tonight, although median age does distinguish Group 47 and Vector Families. Steve Kenny's Group 47 opens at 7 pm, a welcome return of the band that played weekly during the final six months of the Artists Quarter and then found new hosts at Jazz Central, the Black Dog, The Nicollet, Icehouse, Vieux Carré and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. It's a band that veteran trumpeter Kenny pulled together after his long-running Bastids ensemble completed its five-year tenure at the AQ, holding over bassist Adam Tucker and pulling in then very-young pianist Will Kjeer and nearly as young tenor saxophonist Thomas Strommen, along with UW-River Falls drummer Alex Burgess. Two years later, the band has a vinyl recording (Straight to Vinyl); Strommen has transferred from River Falls to the U of M, and Kjeer graduated from high school and is now studying at Cal Arts. Which means Group 47 gigs are limited to holidays and college breaks.

Anthony Cox
The "headline" band at the Black Dog is indeed a band of headliners. Formerly known as the PBR Street Gang, Vector Families features internationally renowned artists who happen to live in the Twin Cities--drummer Dave King and bassist Anthony Cox, along with local guitar legend Dean Granros and future legend, saxophonist Brandon Wozniak.

Peg Carrothers
The stars above St Paul are certainly casting a wide beam tonight. Two short blocks from the Black Dog, vocalist Peg Carrothers and her better-known spouse, pianist Bill Carrothers, celebrate Peg's new recording, Edges of My Mind, as well as the opening of a new Jazz at Studio Z concert season. Starting at 6 pm with a "master class" on jazz singing, Peg and Bill then join forces with the artists on the recording-- Dean Magraw on guitar and mandolin and Billy Peterson on bass--for a concert that takes us through the ethereal music of the CD, songs that stretch in time from Stephen Foster to the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith.

Pat Mallinger
And less than a mile away, Vieux Carré hosts an unusual "homecoming" for saxophonist and St Paul native Pat Mallinger, a long-time cohort of Bill Carrothers. For years since he relocated to Chicago, Pat returned for holiday gigs at the Artists Quarter, playing his last with Carrothers on Thanksgiving weekend 2013. Now he's back to the same space, new club, and he even has drummer and AQ owner Kenny Horst in tow to handle the drum duties. With his usual bandmates Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson otherwise occupied at Studio Z, he'll be joined by Chris Lomheim on piano and Andrew Foreman on bass.

Charmin Michelle and Sam Miltich
In South St. Paul, there's a very special evening planned at the Croation Hall, where vocalist Charmin Michelle teams up with guitarist Sam Miltich for a dinner and music night. Augmenting the buttery voice of Charmin and the hot club swinging swagger of Sam's guitar will be sax giant Dave Karr, Sam's dad Matthew Miltich on bass and Nathan Norman on drums. There's an optional dinner buffet to complete the evening.

Jazz in the Lobby Bar with JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske, Benny Weinbeck Trio at Parma 8200, Sophia Shorai at Hell's Kitchen, Talking Strings at Loring Pasta Bar, and Tim Sparks (dinner sets) at the Icehouse offer more choices for Saturday night jazz fever.

Andrew Walesch
Sunday, November 29.  In case you are tired of leftover turkey or managed to wipe it out, you might be up for jazz brunch -- the Andrew Walesch Trio at Crooners, Patty and the Buttons at the Aster Cafe, Robert Everest at Maria's. Or plan an evening away from leftovers at the Riverview Wine Bar with the Zacc Harris Trio.

Pat Martino
Monday, November 30. It's been a long time since guitar master Pat Martino was in town, but the durable virtuoso finally returns for one night at the Dakota, bringing in his smoldering organ trio with B-3 hot-handed Pat Bianchi and sleight-of-hand drummer Carmen Intorre. Already a star when a brain aneurysm left him unable to play, Martino famously relearned every lick and returned to star-level performing in one of the greatest comeback stories in music.

Vocalist Charmin Michelle is back at Crooners Lounge, this time in prime time with a quartet of feisty swingers-- Denny Malmberg on accordion, Steve Pikal on bass, and Jay Epstein on drums.

Jazz Central Studios welcomes Winston-Salem, NC-based keyboard monster Abebi Stafford to the Spotlight series. A Minnesota native, Stafford headlined the Twin Cities "Hot Sumer Jazz Festival" back in 2002, and in 2004 won the Future of Jazz Competition with his band Bayorhythm. He's toured internationally and is working on his fourth album.

Happy Hour at Crooners will feature vocalist/pianist Andrew Walesch all week, starting tonight. That's a cool way to start your evening, whether you plan to stay on for dinner and more music or just chill out before heading home.

JT Bates
JT's Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse will feature the Bates Brothers (JT on drums, Chris on bass) "plus guests."Turns out those guests include Mike Lewis (sax) and Cory Wong (guitar). An enviable guest list.

Tuesday, December 1. Vieux Carré hosts two of our finest jazz women tonight, starting off with Mary Louise Knutson on solo piano, followed by Maryann Sullivan's Corner Jazz-- Maryann on vocals with Javi Santiago on piano, Steve Pikal on bass, and Trevor Haining on drums.

It's the First Tuesday, meaning Dean Magraw and Davu Seru create guitar/percussion mayhem at The Black Dog, while the Bill Simenson Orchestra holds its monthly bash at Jazz Central.

Steven Hobert
And it's instrumental jazz night at Crooners, with the Steven Hobert Quartet on stage. Inventive and eclectic, Hobert appears with strong support from saxophonist Brian Gallagher, bassist Yohannes Tona and drummer Pete Hennig.

Diane Schuur
Wednesday, December 2. It's a long-awaited return of Grammy-winning vocalist Diane Schuur, back at the Dakota tonight for two engaging sets. Her voice has covered nearly every corner of American music, and her sets are as entertaining as they are musical. And her band will be filled with first-call musicians.

A local songbird with an equally distinguished career, Connie Evingson hosts her monthly Jazz in the Lounge at the Minneapolis Woman's Club, tonight with Mary Louise Knutson, Dave Karr and Chris Bates.

At Hell's Kitchen, the Wolverines Trio (Rick Carlson, Steve Pikal, Jendeen Forberg) return with some devilish sets. Meanwhile at Jazz Central, the "new music" series presents a new quartet from Davu Seru, Destruct/Reconstruction, with Anthony Cox, Steve Kenny and Levi Schwartzberg.

Lila Ammons
And Lila's Jazz Triangle returns to the Tangiers for Jazz After Work, now at a new time to attract the after-work crowd (6-9 pm). Lila Ammons heads this trio, bringing her natural talents and experience touring in Europe, to say nothing of her legacy --granddaughter of boogie-woogie master Albert Ammons and niece of hard bop saxophonist Gene Ammons. Adding pianist Peter Schimke and bassist Jim Chenoweth only up the ante.

Thursday, December 3. Crooners is starting a special duo series on the First Thursday of the month, dubbed "In the Crook"-- singers and pianists. Tonight enjoy two of the hardest swinging musicians in town, vocalist Charmin Michelle with pianist (and every singer's best friend) Rick Carlson.

More Jazz!
Keep up with the live jazz scene in the Twin Cities. The most comprehensive jazz calendar can be found at Jazz Police, but you will also find jazz listings at KBEM, Rhythm and Grooves and Jazz Near You. KBEM and KFAI radio host jazz programs regularly and provide daily notices of jazz gigs and concerts. The live edition of The Lead Sheet can be heard at 4:40 pm on Thursdays on KBEM, excerpts rebroadcast at 7:20 am on Fridays. On December 3, guest Steve Kenny talks about upcoming events at the Black Dog and Nicollet, including back to back performances by the Atlantis Quartet. Venues and artists are reminded to send information to online and print calendars (e.g.

Coming Soon!
. December 4, The Girls at the Dakota
. December 4, "Merry and Bright" with Charles Lazarus, Orchestra Hall
. December 4, Atlantis Quartet at The Nicollet
. December 4, Dean Magraw and Steven Hobert at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church
. December 5, Atlantis Quartet at the Black Dog
. December 5, Connie Evingson, Jazz @ St Barney's
. December 5, PipJazz (Pippi Ardennia) at The Bedlam
. December 6, Capri Big Band at the Capri Theater
. December 7, Lawrence University Faculty Jazz Quartet with Laura Caviani, Adam Meckler and Mary Louise Knutson at the Dakota
. December 7, Acme Jazz Company at Crooners Lounge
. December 8, Jamison Ross at the Dakota
. December 8, Butch Thompson and Dean Magraw at Crooners Lounge
. December 9, "Feel Good Revolution" at Vieux Carré
. December 9-10, Ramsey Lewis Holiday Show at the Dakota
. December 10, Adam Meckler Orchestra at Vieux Carré
. December 10, Vicky Mountain Jazz Central
. December 10, Debbie Duncan Quartet at Crooners Lounge
. December 11, Laura Caviani Holiday Show at Vieux Carré
. December 12, Fletcher/King/Woods CD release at the Black Dog
. December 12, JT Bates "Grain", Jazz at Studio Z
. December 12, Peter Kogan Quartet at Vieux Carré
. December 13, Fuzzy Math CD Release at the Icehouse
. December 14-15, New York Voices Holiday show at the Dakota
. December 15, Jazz 88 Holiday Party with Mary Louise Knutson and Katia Cardenas at Vieux Carré
. December 15, Phil Aaron Trio at Crooners Lounge
. December 17, Larry McDonald Holiday Show at the Dakota
. December 18 & 20, "Jingle Bell Doc," Doc Severinsen and the MN Orchestra at Orchestra Hall
. December 19, Ginger Commodore Holiday Show at Vieux Carré
. December 20, Peterson Family Christmas at the Dakota
. December 21-22, Nachito Herrera and the Universals at the Dakota
. December 22, Connie Evingson "Hot Jazz" at Vieux Carré
. December 22, Bill Carrothers Trio (with Billy Peterson and Dave King) at Crooners Lounge
. December 25-28, The Bad Plus at the Dakota
. December 27, Big Band Christmas at Jazz@ St Barneys
. December 31, Artists Quarter New Year's Eve with Carole Martin at Hell's Kitchen
. December 31, New Year's Eve Dinner Show with Jazzland Wonderband at Vieux Carré
. December 31, New Year's Eve Benefit for Feed My Starving Children with The Niskas at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (Burnsville)
. January 9, Andrew Walesch at Jazz @St Barneys
. January 10, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues at the Dakota
. January 17, John Penny CD release at the Icehouse
. January 22, Happy Apple at the Icehouse
. January 23, Jeremy Walker's Seven Psalms at Orchestra Hall
. January 23, Rick Carlson and Steve Pikal at Jazz @St. Barneys
. January 31, Winter Jazz Festival at the Saint Paul Hotel, featuring the Cyrus Chestnut Trio
. February 2, Charles Lloyd Trio with Bill Frisell at the Dakota
. February 8-9, John Scofield and Joe Lovano at the Dakota
. February 20, Swing Sister (Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie) at Jazz @ St Barneys
. February 22, Ches Smith Trio with Craig Taborn at the Icehouse
. February 25, Rez Abassi with Rudresh Mahanthappa at Walker Art Center
. February 25, Jazz in the Target Atrium, Atrium Jazz Ensemble with Bryan Nichols at Orchestra Hall
. March 2-3, Brian Blade Fellowship at the Dakota
. March 5, Pete Whitman X-Tet at Hopkins Center for the Arts
. March 13, JazzMN Orchestra with Tierney Sutton at the Hopkins High School Auditorium
. April 23, JazzMN Orchestra with Bob McChesney and Andy Martin at Hopkins High School Auditorium
. April 28, Jazz in the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall
. May 7, Steve Lehman Octet at the Walker Art Center

Remember New Year's Eve at the Artists Quarter? Enjoy the music and party again  as the Artists Quarter celebrates at Hell's Kitchen on December 31, with Carole Martin, Phil Aaron, Dean Magraw and of course Kenny Horst! Reserve at